Early theoretical work on artificial satellites
June 19, 2007 6:02pm CST
The first known fictional depiction of a satellite being launched into orbit is a short story by Edward Everett Hale, The Brick Moon. The story was serialized in The Atlantic Monthly, starting in 1869. The idea surfaces again in Jules Verne's The Begum's Millions (1879). In 1903 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935) published ???????????? ??????? ??????????? ??????????? ????????? (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices), which is the first academic treatise on the use of rocketry to launch spacecraft. He calculated the orbital speed required for a minimal orbit around the Earth at 8 km/second, and that a multi-stage rocket fueled by liquid propellants could be used to achieve this. He proposed the use of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, though other combinations can be used. During his lifetime he published over 500 works on space travel and related subjects, including science fiction novels. Among his works are designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multi-stage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship into the vacuum of space, and closed cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. He also delved into theories of heavier-than-air flying machines, independently working through many of the same calculations that the Wright brothers were performing at about the same time. In 1928 Herman Potocnik (1898–1929) published his sole book, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums - der Raketen-motor (The Problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor), a plan for a breakthrough into space and a permanent human presence there. He conceived of a space station in detail and calculated its geostationary orbit. He described the use of orbiting spacecraft for detailed peaceful and military observation of the ground and described how the special conditions of space could be useful for scientific experiments. The book described geostationary satellites (first put forward by Tsiolkovsky) and discussed communication between them and the ground using radio, but fell short of the idea of using satellites for mass broadcasting and as telecommunications relays. In 1945 the English science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke (b. 1917) conceived of the possibility for mass artificial communication satellites in his Wireless World article. Clarke examined the logistics of satellite launch, possible orbits and other aspects of the creation of a network of world-circling satellites, pointing to the benefits of high-speed global communications. He also suggested that three geostationary satellites would provide coverage over the entire planet.